Sunday, May 16, 2010

From Queen of Arabian Sea to Queen of Hills

We set out on a journey. Hubby, 2 daughters, myself and my parents. A whole jing-bang (extended family) was to join us later in Coonoor. We drove down (or should I say uphill?) - From Cochin - the Queen of Arabian Sea, to Nilgiris - the Queen of Hills.

Day 1, Drive to Nilgiri (Blue Hills / Blue Mountain) enroute Thrissur & Coimbatore:
A rather long journey by road. Thankfully we had a few stopovers, visiting family and friends enroute. And the pleasant sights from Mettupalayam to Coonoor was a bonus. Coonoor is a place that goes back to my childhood days. I did my primary schooling, when my dad was posted there. From the time we reached Coonoor, the nostalgia was overwhelming. We were headed to my Uncle's place, in Railey Compound, which was where I lived (way back in the 80s). I could very clearly remember the road that led to the house I used to stay. Memories flashed before my eyes. Gulp! Never felt this way before.

Day 1, Coonoor:
Found a place to park. Had to walk down quite a few steps before we got to the house. Freshened up and set out, on foot. The whole of Coonoor is more or less connected by steps (the short-cut). Over 2 decades, and nothing much had changed. More houses, more people, more vehicles, more heat, more pollution perhaps. But still, it looked more or less the same to me.

We first headed to my old school, my alma mater - St.Joseph's Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School. My heart was racing. Gulp! Gulp! Gulp! as I walked down the memory lane. Many new blocks seemed to have come up. But my classrooms seemed intact. The steps where we used to play "Crocodile", the ground where we used to play "Dog and the bone", the auditorium where I sang, danced and participated in fancy dress competitions, the chapel, the garden, the cafetaria where I ate "delicious cocunut burfee"....brought back fond memories of my school days. I was excitedly playing guide to my hubby & elder daughter telling them sweet anecdotes of my past. I didn't want to leave. I even thought, maybe I should put my daughters in this school, so I'll have reason to come again, and again! But alas, I had to bid adieu, at least for the moment.

We then went to the marketplace. An old family friend who had a shop (provision store), still has the same shop, which got no bigger, just that there were a lot more things. She looked the same too. The veg & fruit market looked inviting and fresh as fresh can be. Met a few old family friends along the way. They'd seen me when I was a kid and here I was with 2 kids my own!

We walked and climbed and panted all the way. Railway Station, railway level crossing, small shops and everything around looked fascinating enough. My legs were literally begging for mercy (my elder daughter was riding piggy-back on hubby bcoz she got awfully tired with all that walking!), so we called it a day.

Day 2, Ooty:
To Ooty by train. As the train chugged along the hilly terrain, we took in the lovely sights around us. The quaint hilly town, the brightly coloured houses stacked up the hill, the rolling greens of tea plantation, the hills and valleys, the tunnels and everything else in between. Feast to the eyes!

Dodabetta (the 2nd highest peak in South India). The drive up was tiring with all those hairpin bends. But I guess it was worth it. Top of the world (err...South India)!

Boat House. A boat ride in the lake. The tall trees on all sides, blue skies above, a toy train entering the tunnel, crisp waters under, mist clad hills around.

Botanical Garden was a pretty sight. What with all the many varieties of flowers, trees and plants. The mist covered the place, slowly yet steadily. Picture perfect shots. The drizzle got us scurrying on our feet and we winded up for the day. Missed the Rose Garden (supposed to have 25000 varieties of flowers!).

Day 3, Kodanad View Point & Kotagiri:
A beautiful drive. Breathtaking sights uphill. We stopped for photo shots, memories for keeps. The view was absolutely stunning from the View Point. More pictures. We spent a while and resumed our journey back to Coonoor. The drive back was just as interesting. We stop by, the men take a leak. We christen the place loo-hills. And continue the journey downhill.

We passed by Kotagiri. Tea plantations, houses dotting the hills, hairpin bends (and baby puke!) and we finally reach Coonoor.

Day 4, Back to Queen of Arabian Sea, enroute Kotagiri and Coimbatore:
We started our journey back home. Road diversion because of peak traffic in weekend. We were asked to take the Kotagiri route.

"Kotagiri, here we come". A relative of my hubby is head of a provinciate. We became his guests of honour. He took us around the place. Not many adjectives left (used up all of them, haven't I!) to describe the place. You have to see it to believe it. Food on the house. And we resumed our journey.

3 weeks after the trip, Back to routine in Cochin:
Memories linger. Photographs do the talking. The trip was a good break from all the heat down here (sultry weather, routine work, yada, yada...). Looking forward to the next vacation already!

So long...


The Holy Lama said...

Wow! Some trip and all those memories rushing back. Felt happy for you.

Destiny's child said...

What a lovely place! No wonder you are full of tales about your childhood there :) Your school looks straight out of a boarding school movie. Beautiful! And baby, apart from the puke, I assume had a great time exploring the place.

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RGB said...

@ The Holy Lama, The visit to my old school was the best part. Fond memories!

@ Destinys child, Yeah...sure was a great trip and the school is just too good. Baby had a great time too!

@ Sugar Plum Fairy, Thanks for stopping by. Glad u like the post.

Insignia said...

Wow...refreshing memories...Had tread almost similar path. Did not go to Kotagiri though...Hope you had a wonderful time :-)

Ellen said...

That boat ride seemed very interesting. I would have liked to be on it myself. Isn't it nice to go back down memory lane not only in the mind but up close and personal? That was a wonderful thing to do. And so much more to have brought the children along to show them your roots. I think that trip would be something they will always remember and look back to with fondness when they have grown up.

Thank you for sharing your vacation with us. :-)

RGB said...

@ Insignia, Thanks for stopping by. Sure had a wonderful time. Did u study in Kotagiri? You should go too...visit your old school and stuff.

@ Ellen, It was an experience worth experiencing. And I'm glad I could show my kids where I studied, where I lived...thanks for stopping by.

Kavi said...

Ah ! I have done the road trip there ! have very fond memories of the place

Lovely descripton. Thanks for sharing

RGB said...

@ Kavi, Did you go to Coonoor, Ooty or Kotagiri or all three? Lovely place. No amount of adjectives would do justice to the beauty of the place!

Bullshee said...

Sounds like you had a lovely trip! It's true that all of us have to run for the hills once in a while to get away from it all...And you look like you had a relaxing and nostalgic run!

RGB said...

@ Bullshee, Sure did! A much-wanted break from the sultry weather down here.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RGB said...

@ Anonymous,
Thanx for stopping by. And thanx indeed for the encouragement & appreciation :)

Anonymous said...

RGB, It was real nice reading about your trip to Coonoor. I myself studies for about 5 Years ( LKG, UKG, 1st Std, 2nd Std & 3rd Std) in St. Josephs Convent during the 70's. At that time for a few years, St. Josephs Convent had Co-education till the 3rd Std. I was the first Male student to join the Hostel when it started, I was 3 Years old then. My three sisters also studied there then went on to Providence College. Your wonderful write-up brought back nostalgia. Those days were the best...